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Understanding Our Prophet (pbuh)
28 Ekim 2009 09:33

Understanding Our Prophet (pbuh)

Interviewer: Ömer Bald?k

(This interview was published in ZaferMagazine)

By his own words Mehmet Fatih Ç?tlak explained that he had been immersed in the tasawwuf culture from his early childhood.  Before he learned to read the Latin alphabet, he was already reading Ottoman Turkish.

He stated that his true education came under some of the greatest scholars like Gönenli Mehmet Efendi, and that later he studied Turkology.  Due to his interest in both calligraphy and tasawwuf music, he currently works as a music director and in the field of voice broadcasting.  And lastly, he is known for his work supervising the music production and acting as an advisor on the Italian-Turkish co-production film “The Dervish”.  We tried to make an informative interview with him on how our beloved prophet should be comprehended from within the frame of today’s tasawwuf.


What is the meaning of loving our prophet more than our parents, and even our own nafs?[1]  How should we understand this?  Is this a goal that we should aim for?  Or is this a measure of one's iman (faith and inner conviction)?

For the people who don’t realize the ni’mats (benedictions) in their lives, or who can sustain on only water and bread and don’t ask for any other ni’mats…for those who don’t look for colors or particular models for the clothes they wear or for the vehicles that they use…simply knowing of the existence of the Beloved Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) may be enough for them.  But as for the people who have at least three different varieties of food on the table for all their lives but who still aren’t appreciative or aren’t satisfied with how much salt or oil should have used in a particular dish etc.  At least they have a physical taste, but for them there is an obligation to reach a state of being where they can also taste the meaning in the field of mânâ (the meaning of inner sense).  If this meaning is still unclear, then let me give an example which epitomizes this point.

Anas related that a man came to the Holy Prophet and said: “Your emissary came to us, and said that you claim that Allah has sent you.”  The Holy Prophet replied:  “He spoke the truth.”  He then said: “The emissary asserted that five daily prayers have been made obligatory for us.”  The Holy Prophet replied: “He spoke the truth.”  The man said:  “Has Allah commanded you this?”  The Holy Prophet said “Yes.”  The man then questioned the Holy Prophet about salah, Zakah (Giving of Alms) and fasting, in the same manner.  [It should be noticed that the Prophet didn’t mention the Hajj duty because it did not exist in those times.]  The man then turned to go, saying: “By Him who sent you, I shall do no more or less than this.”  The Holy Prophet said: “If he spoke the truth, he shall enter paradise.”[2]

But along with this we should remember this Hadith:

“One day Omar (Radi-Allahu anhu) was walking with the Prophet s.a.a.w and he said, “By Allah, I love you O Prophet of Allah.”  Then the Prophet asked him, “More than your family, O Omar?”  Omar answered, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.”  The Prophet then asked him, “More than your children, Omar?” Omar answered, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.”  The Prophet then asked him, “More than your wealth O Omar?”  Omar answered, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.”  The Prophet then asked him, “More than yourself, O Omar?”  Then Omar said, “No, O Prophet of Allah.”  Then the Prophet said, “O Omar, your Iman will never be complete until you love me more than yourself.”  So Omar went out and stayed alone for a while, then he came back and loudly said, “O Prophet of Allah, now I love you more than myself.”   The Prophet then replied, “Now, O Omar, now, O Omar.”  Omar (Radi-Allahu anhu) was later asked how could you love someone more than you love your own self?  He answered, “I went out and asked myself whom I needed more, myself or the Prophet Mohammed s.a.a.w?  I found that I needed the Prophet more.  I will not intercede for myself on the Day of Judgment, but the Prophet will.  My deeds will not get me into the highest of levels, but my love for the Prophet will.  I did not take myself from the darkness to the light, but the Prophet did.  Hence, the love of the Prophet fell in my heart more than my love for myself.” [3]

It is understood from this that even one’s comprehension is developed in the field of material, so parallel to this one is obliged to also develop their spiritual comprehension.  A person who is able to love flowers, bugs, their wife, children, or eating and drinking is of course obliged to love the Rasul Allah more than any of those things.  Of course beyond any doubt the Rasul Allah deserves more love then any other things that he loves.

"May the most beloved beings to me, my mother and father, be sacrificed for you, O God's Messenger.”  [fadaka ummi wa abi, ya Rasul Allah]  What is the meaning of this?  When this hadith is translated it is generally done without understanding the true meaning within it.  If we look at this a different way, let us say if a person sacrifices his mother or father instead of him/herself, can it be said that it is actually a sacrifice?  Particularly in the Arab culture this saying, “My mother and father be sacrificed for you”, is really an important one.  It means that the zahir (apparent meaning) for someone being in this world is their mother and father.  O’ Rasul Allah, I am willing not only to sacrifice myself, but also to sacrifice the reason for my physical body (my mother and father).  This is the true meaning.  This is what is meant in Arabian culture when using this phrase, and it should be understood in this way.

Those who are truly self-sacrificing altruists, ones of such devoted love, are the ones who are capable of spreading the love (muhabbat) of Rasul-e Akram and the nur (light) of Islam.  In order to reach to the Beloved (Janan), you must first leave behind your self.

If you were going to point out the various obstacles that lie before us to understanding our Beloved Prophet then how would you order them in importance? What are your opinions about the concept of an “Islam without a prophet” or “The Islam of the Qur’an”?

The morality and manners (akhlaq) and the beauty of the Holy Qur’an are like rain clouds in the dome of the sky.  For the rain to fall down to the earth as rahmat (mercy), it is only through Hazrat-e Alem Efendi, who is our beloved prophet.  His name is “Rahmatan Lil Alamin”[4].  The Holy Qur’an wasn’t sent to us, but rather to our prophet.  Without first understanding our prophet, it is impossible for us to understand how and why the Holy Qur’an was sent to us, because the Holy Qur’an only becomes apparent to us through Fahr-e Alem Efendi (our Beloved Prophet).

Those who deny the hadith-e sherifs and do not follow the practices and manners of our Prophet (who is the leader of the two worlds) are practically denying the whole Qur’an.  First, that means that they are ignoring all of the ayat in the Qur’an that refer to Rasul Allah.  Now they could still try to live by the religion of Islam despite never reaching the level where the manners and practices of our Prophet are applied in their lives, but without observing those practices and reaching that level, someone can not practice the real religion…it is impossible.  Even the main pillar of the religion, salah (prayer), can only be understood through the descriptions and practices of our Prophet.

Secondly, and perhaps the main issue, is this:  What is the Qur’an?  In other words, how do we know the Qur’an is actually the Qur’an?  It is simple.  It is because the RasulAllah told us “this is an ayat” that we know that it is an ayat.  Otherwise, how else could we know that it is an ayat?  In fact, didn’t the sahaba (the companions) ask the Prophet, “O Rasul Allah, is this an ayat or only your words?”  Who was the one to confirm it?  Of course it was the leader of all other prophets, Hazrat Risalet-e Penah.[5]

So, the Qur’an, or all of the writings that were collected between the two covers of the mushaf, came to us from the blessed mouth of Rasul Allah and is understood through his words.  So how could someone say that they understand that it is an ayat, but they still are not going to listen to the tafsir (interpretation) of the Rasul Allah.  You can’t say that.

There might be some inauthentic additions mixed into some hadith-e sherifs, but without a doubt this doesn’t give us reason to ignore all of them.  Let me try to give an example from our daily lives.  Could you shut down the whole Bosphorus Bridge to traffic just because accidents are bound to happen from time to time?  The duty of the Alims is to draw the lines of the path, to put up what signs are needed, and to light the path in the proper manner.  Closing the road because accidents may happen is not the right way.  Simply because the hadiths and the practices of the Ashab e Kiram might be understood in the wrong way doesn’t mean that they should be neglected.

After all, look at what history tells us.  You cannot find any person or any jama‘at that acted senselessly because of their love for the Rasul Allah.  In fact, Allah forbids those who love the Rasul Allah from falling into senselessness.  In conclusion, as is commanded in the Surah of ?li-'Imr?n, Allah specifically tells us that for those who claim that they love Him, if they want to know that they are also loved by Him then they should obey His prophet.

In these times people are having difficulty understanding the fundamental importance and greatness of our prophet.  What is the source of this problem?

Imagine a primitive tribe...a tribe that lives in an untouched, pristine forest.  Bring this tribe to a concert hall to watch a performance from a philharmonic orchestra.  Of course these people would probably only know their tribal drumming or chanting and would never have heard or know of any other instruments, and so they would be quite surprised. They would be surprised, but they wouldn’t notice the intricacies of the music.  They can recognize that the music is beautiful and interesting, but still they can’t understand what the essence is that makes it so beautiful.  They can’t understand and truly appreciate the meaning of the cymbal that rings only once after a hundred and forty beats, or the complex rise and fall of the notes in the composition, because they haven’t inherited such a beautiful tradition as this.

The scholars tell us that if our Beloved prophet was sent before all of the other prophets, then he would not be fully understood or appreciated.  Namely, he wouldn’t have been known as more al-karim (most generous) than Hazrat Moses, nor would they know that he was more the Ruhullah (spirit of God) than Hazrat Isa (Jesus), or more beautiful even than Hazrat Joseph, more of a savior than Hazrat Noah, or even purer than Hazrat Adam.  After all of these qualities were known through the earlier prophets, our Beloved Prophet appeared, and his quality was apparent to all and was realized by both the believers and non believers who had inherited this culture, and thus the door of inkâr (denial) and risalat was closed.  The seed of the Khatm e Nubuwwat [6] is our prophet Alayhessalatu Wasallam.  And the last fruit bourne from that tree was also our prophet.  He is al-Awwal in the creation of mankind, and he is al-Ahir of the prophets to be sent.  So, this apple comes from this tree; but actually that tree comes from that apple.

In summary, all of the earlier prophets were sent to expound upon what would later be understood to be the beauty of the Beloved prophet, and so that his beauty, his esmas (names), his qualities, and also his manners and actions would later be known by everyone.

There is another hadith-e qudsi that reflects the greatness of our prophet by saying: “Law laaka law laaka maa khalaqtal aflaak” 'If not for you (O Muhammad!) I would not have created creation' [It is because of the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) that the world was brought from non-existence to existence].  Could you please explain the meaning of this?

Some people see this phrase, “Allah had created the universe for him”, as an exaggeration.  But actually it is just another way of stating a well-known thing.  It can also be explained logically.  Let me put in this way.  Why did Janab-i Haqq create the universe?  To be known.  How did His will then come to us?  It came to us through His prophets.  Did Allah take the covenant of the prophets at Alam al-arwah (the world of spirits) when He said “I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an apostle, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help?”.  Yes, He did. [Surah ?li-'Imr?n. 81]

It might be a kind of an “‘ilmi” (scholastic) notion, but is the Holy Qur’an makhlooq?  It is not.  The Qur'an, in its entirety, is the words of Allah.  It is not something that was created later…it is literal and eternal but was revealed later when it was handed down to the prophet. Therefore, in al-azal (pre-eternity) Allah already had this ma’na (meaning) and this kalam (words) within Him.  In this kalam didn’t He say “Muhammedun Rasulullah”?  Didn’t He also say “La`amruka” [15:72] and take an oath on the life of His Prophet?  Even in the surah Al-Balad when He swore an oath on the land of Mecca, did He not declare that His Rasul was to live there?  In His saying, “Wa Al-`Asr” [103:1] did He not declare that for the time of the Prophet that this would be so?  In saying, “Wa A?-?u?aá” did He not make an oath to al-wajh (face) of His prophet?  So, all of these things show us that the purpose of the creation of “Sam?w?t” and “Ard” (the Heavens and Earth), was for the coming of the one that knows Him the best and declares Him the best.  This is what it is about.

What is the main reason that lies behind people’s stubborn unwillingness to understand the prophet?

Not understanding the prophet is directly related with not understanding Allah and the Holy Qur’an.  Questions such as, “Can we adapt and apply the life of our prophet to life today?” or “Can we actually live the same life style today as we would in the period that he lived?” are actually directly related with seeing Allah as unknowing.  It is like actually saying to Allah, “You are Allah, but you can’t predict (know) how people are going to live fourteen hundred years later”.  Please look at the first ayats of the Holy Qur’an where Allah declares that He is Rabbi Al-`?lam?n (the Creator of all created beings and Lord of the worlds). And with His rahmaniyat (Beneficence) and Raheemiyat (Mercy) He declares that absolute unity and godhood all belong to Him.  He also tells us that He is the Maliki yaw middin (Lord of the Day of Judgment).  What is the meaning of this?  All of these commandments hold their validity and must be applied from those times right on until the dawn of the judgment day when both doers and non-doers will be questioned and held accountable for their actions. 

Lastly, is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to share these couplets by Hazrat Hassaan Bin Sabit R.A, written for our Beloved prophet:

Wa ahsanu minka lam tara qattu eynun,
Wa ajmalu minka lam talidi'n nisaau,
Khuliqta mubarraan min kulli`aybin,
Ka annaka qad khalaqta kamaa tashaau.

No eye has set upon anybody handsome & fairer as you
No woman has given birth to anyone as beautiful as you
You were created free from all flaws,
As if you were created as you wish to be.



[1] "None of you becomes a believer until I am dearer to him than his children, his parents and all mankind." (as recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)  Some versions add to this quote: "…his life, his wealth and his family". 

[2] (Sahih Muslim, vol. i, pp. 86,--,87)

[3] Authentic hadith, narrated by Al Bukhari

[4] Wa M? 'Arsaln?ka 'Ill? Ra?matan Lil`?lam?na [21:107] “We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures.” - We did not send you, O Muhammad (s), except as a mercy, that is, to [give] mercy, to all the worlds, [the worlds of] mankind and jinn through you.

[5] Risalet-penah — Asylum of prophecy, an epithet of Mohammed, often conferred on him to denote his supposed prophetical superiority

[6] Finality of Prophethood


Translated by

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